You can make the argument that Claude Julien is the best active head coach in the NHL or that he may even be one of the best of all-time. However, there is little argument that he is the best coach without a team right now. Yet, the only team in the NHL without a coach is unlikely to pursue him. In a report this morning by Jason Pothier of The Sin Bin, it was revealed that Julien might be too expensive for the league’s newest franchise.
Pothier notes that, following Mike Babcock’s $6.25M yearly deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the bar has been raised for NHL coaches’ salaries. Given Julien’s pedigree and history of success as the head coach of the Boston Bruins, his next deal could easily be in the $4-6MM range. When Pothier approached Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley with that estimate, the reaction was not exactly positive. “That’s probably a lot for us”, Foley admitted, “all the people we have in this organization keep their egos in check they are about winning hockey games or making a successful business.” Foley’s remarks paint a pretty clear picture of an organization that needs to put the team before the individual while they get situated. While Julien is not at all a selfish coach, he is an established winner who is likely interested in joining a contender rather than an upstart. Foley continued in describing his ideal coach, saying “it’s best for us if we can find a coach that can carry us from day one. The expansion draft, amateur draft, opening night, to five or six years when we’re real contenders… I’d just say we want a guy that’s gong to be with us for the long haul. Someone who is a players coach, that’s what (GM George McPhee) is looking for… and an owner’s coach too.”
While one potential landing spot can be crossed off the list, Julien will not go without a job for long. The Florida Panthers have already asked for permission to speak with him, and if the New York Islanders miss the playoffs under Doug Weight, they may not be far behind. Other jobs will inevitably open up before the start of the 2017-18 season as well. As for Vegas, they still have recently-fired coaches like Gerard Gallant and Jack Capuano to look at, as well as several former NHL coaches, up-and-coming junior and college coaches, and even some dark horse candidates like Ralph Krueger.